A journey worth taking

By Aldrin Valdehueza 

4 October 2017 General Interest

My name is Aldrin Martinez Valdehueza. I arrived from the Philippines in October 2016 to continue my seminary studies for the Diocese of Broken Bay. In February, I joined the Seminary of the Good Shepherd together with the other thirteen young men studying for the dioceses of Canberra-Goulburn, Sydney, Bathurst, and the Chaldean Rite.

This is not my first time to be in the seminary, but the context here in Australia is far different from my country. The Church here is very multi-cultural and this is evidently reflected in the seminary as well. In my class alone we are already a diverse community as we come from different ethnic backgrounds. I am studying with six Vietnamese men, two Australians, two Samoans, one Iraqi, one Indonesian and one Indian. Our diversity is both enriching and challenging at the same time. Personally, it is offering me with wealth of opportunities to gain knowledge and experience that will help me adjust and integrate in this country where cultural diversity is embraced and cherished. It is also broadening and widening my horizon as it allows me to experience things I am not accustomed to. On the other hand, it is bringing considerable challenges to each one of us in the community to appreciate and embrace our differences.

Our First-Year program is also referred to as the Spiritual Year. We are a community within the bigger seminary community. We have our own set of structure and schedule. It is in this year of formation that we are significantly supported as we enter in to the challenging and rewarding life of the seminary. This is also the period of the formation that we journey to grow more in self-knowledge and self-reflection to help us discern well in our vocation to priesthood.

Thus, we are provided with various lectures, seminars, spiritual exercises such as retreats, recollections, daily prayers, spiritual directions, pastoral exposures and communal activities that foster an integrated seminary formation.

As I reflect on the turns and detours I have had in my life journey, I am filled with wonder and gratitude. I believe that my coming to Australia did not happen by chance, but through God’s providence and part of his wonderful plan for me.

Some years ago, I joined the seminary after Uni, stayed there for six years and left the formation to explore and figure what exactly is my calling in life. I could say that I have had a great and exciting life after leaving. I became so happy experiencing things that brought forth with wonderful memories and learnings to me. I have had the chance to travel. I did what young and single men usually do, searching for the right girl to be with forever. I never closed the thought of getting married and raise my own family someday.

Yet, I still felt I was searching for something greater. I was still restless and unfulfilled. There was still a small voice within me that tenderly invites me to consider priestly vocation. Finally, I responded to it. I gave in and went to see my spiritual director again to prayerfully discern for my vocation.

That searching brought me to Australia for an immersion and mutual discernment program with the Diocese of Broken Bay in 2014. The rest is history. And now I am back in the seminary and I have never been happier and at peace with my decision.

Although I have missed the comfort of being with my family and friends back home, God never allows any single moment for me to feel alone and unsupported here. He has gifted me with wonderful people who have made me part of their lives and families. I am so blessed and grateful for all the support and prayers I have been receiving from my St Patrick’s Parish community of Gosford, brother seminarians, formator priests, new found friends, and especially Bishop Peter, the clergy and lay faithful of our Diocese. The journey still goes on and for now, I am just relishing the joy and peace I feel within despite the challenges of everyday life in the seminary. I am now home away from home.

Let me take this opportunity to speak to young people out there. If you are thinking of discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life, know there are many others thinking about it as well and you are never alone.

It’s a journey worth taking. I pray that you will discover the amazing journey that the Lord has in store for you. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! (For the greater glory of God).

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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